Sunday, February 27, 2011

Descendants of Robert Brown & Margaret Barnes

We just came back from a family funeral a couple weeks ago in Pittsburgh, PA - where is was more like a fun family reunion. I saw cousins I hadn't seen in 20 years or more and we decided we really want to try to stay in better contact with each other. So one cousin, Sherry Payne Terry, collected info and then she & I set up a Barnes-Brown Family page on Facebook. These are descendants of Robert Brown and Margaret Barnes - their children are shown to the left.

Now the hunt for family begins. We have found several from the Hare and Voelkel clans (which were at the funeral) and I found a couple of Simmons and found 1 Rothey on Facebook but we still have a long way to go to track this family down. We still need to track down more of the families mentioned above and also the Ellenwood Family, the Carnahan Family, the Snead Family, the Curry Family and the Brown Family.

My sister, Venus DeAnn Hare Draper works for the Seminaries & Institutes in Ohio and she sent me this and asked me to share it - In her words:

"this is a short write-up I did for Karl Anderson on George Barnes when he and the other Seminaries and Institutes Coordinators met in Pittsburgh for a meeting and learned about the history of the Church in that area.....which of course stars our family."

George Barnes was Margaret Barnes' father. For those of us that are descendants, we have quite a legacy to be proud of. Here's her write up.

George Barnes and the New England Branch

The New England Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania District was organized on May 17, 1886. George Barnes was appointed as the first Branch President.

Before converting to the Church, George Barnes had been an itinerate Preacher in the Pittsburgh Area, having established a congregation of approximately 200 members. He came in contact with William Bickerton’s proselyting for the Church of Jesus Christ, otherwise known as the Bickertonite Church, one of the prominent splinter groups of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stemming from the Rigdonite Church. The Book of Mormon and Bible were used in their teachings. George Barnes became a member and many of his followers joined as well. George Barnes was "ordained" an Apostle in the Bickertonite Church. He later was “ordained” as a member of the First Presidency in the Bickertonite Church.

As George Barnes and his family began to study the Book of Mormon more intimately, he recognized some disparity between what the Bickertonite’s were professing and what the Book of Mormon witnessed. George Barnes wanted to know so he could align himself and his family with the truth, even if it meant leaving his prominent calling as an Apostle and First Presidency member.

So, George Barnes sent a telegraph to Salt Lake City, the Headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and asked that missionaries of the Church be sent back to settle some of the misconceptions. Elder B.H. Roberts was sent to Pennsylvania and soon afterwards George Barnes and his faithful congregation of 200 were all baptized members into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

(This is a picture of George Barnes and wife, Mary Locke (sitting) with their daughter, Margaret Barnes, standing between them and B. H. Roberts is standing on the far right.)

The New England Branch was organized in May 1886 and the newly formed Branch met in New England Hollow. Included in this newly formed congregation were several prominent families that acted as leaven: the Barnes Family, the Baxendale’s (the Clerk who kept meticulous records which have since been sent to Salt Lake to be archived), the Brown Family, including those marrying the Brown family daughters…which became the Hare Family, the Rothey Family, the Voelkel Family, the Simmons Family, the Ellenwood Family, the Carnahan Family, the Snead Family and the Curry Family.

George Barnes, in addition to being a Preacher, was a coal miner. One of his co-workers was a black man named, Levi Hamilton. When George Barnes shared the message of the Gospel and the Book of Mormon with Levi, he became one of these original members of the newly organized New England Branch of the Church. He was a faithful and stalwart member of the Church all of his life, never missing a Sunday, and having to walk each week from Blair Hill to worship at the Odd Fellows Hall. Levi died in 1977. Shortly after, President Spencer W. Kimball announced that all worthy members of the Church could hold the Priesthood. Donald Hare (my father) was privileged to do his Temple Work. My father joked that when Levi got to the other side, it was his prodding that ushered in this revelation!

The New England Branch remained strong. They were small in number but mighty in spirit. They continued to grow amidst many obstacles and other Branches of the Church were organized by the Priesthood, including the Wilson Branch formed in 1923 which was the Branch my family attended. They met in the “Odd Fellows Hall”. Each Sunday members would have to clean the Hall of its liquor bottles and tobacco before their Worship Service could commence. Most of these main families remained in the Pittsburgh area and worked hard at keeping the doctrinal teachings and practices pure as the Church slowly grew and took hold.

A few of the extended families left the area and gathered to Utah. One of these was Earl Barnes, George’s brother. He and his family lived in the Ogden area of the Church and Earl served as a Stake President later in his life.

Other Branches that grew from this original New England Branch included: the Pittsburgh Branch (Orrin Hatch was Branch President of this Branch), the Mon City Branch (Mon is short for Monongahela), the Uniontown Branch, the Little Washington Branch, the Pleasant Hills Branch (formed on June 27, 1965 which became the Branch my family attended after New England and then Wilson) and finally on May 11, 1969 the Pittsburgh 2nd Ward was formed.

Venus DeAnn Hare Draper


  1. Any efforts to strengthen our family are appreciated. I am the daughter of Robert B. Murdock and Ada Elizabeth Rothey.
    About 25 years ago I did extensive work on my four generation lines, correcting and proving much information.
    Now my sister, Carol Galvez is researching and meeting with a lot success.
    I'm very much interested in keeping in contact with extended family.
    Thank you for this blog.
    Kathryn (Murdock) Harris

  2. Katie if you are on Facebook we have set up a page for our family and are trying to find as many descendants of Robert Brown and Margaret Barnes.